THE Divine judgment of the 70 years' Servitude to Babylon fell in 606 B.C., which was the third year of King Jehoiakim, and the year before the accession of Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews refused to bow to the Divine judgment thus inflicted upon them, and in the ninth year of the Servitude they revolted (597 B.C.). This brought upon them the judgment of the Captivity. The Babylonian army again captured Jerusalem, and all "save the poorest sort of the people of the land" were deported to Chaldea. Jeremiah in Jerusalem, and Ezekiel among the captives, gave repeated warnings that continued impenitence would bring down a still fiercer judgment But, misled by promises of help from Egypt, the Jews again revolted in the tenth year of the Captivity; and, in fulfillment of prophetic warnings, their city was destroyed and their land laid desolate. "The Fast of Tebeth is still observed by the Jews of every land in commemoration of the day from which the era of the 70 years of "the Desolations" was reckoned, namely, the tenth day of the tenth month in the ninth year of King Zedekiah (589 B.C.). See Ezekiel 24:1, 2, and Kings 25:1. Both the 70 years of the Servitude and the 62 years of the Captivity ended in 536 B.C., when the decree of Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to their own land. That decree expressly authorized the rebuilding of the Temple. But though the words of a Persian king were regarded as divine, that decree was thwarted by the local authorities in Judea until the reign of Darius Hystaspes. The explanation of this strange fact is that God would not permit the rebuilding of the Temple until the era of the Desolations ended.
The year in use both with the Jews and the Chaldeans was one of 860 days, the calendar being corrected by intercalation. And that this is the prophetic year is made plain both in Daniel and Revelation, 42 months being the equivalent of 1260 days. Now 70 years of 360 days contain 25,200 days; and the period between the 10th Tebeth 589 and the 24th Chisleu 520, when the foundation of the second Temple was laid (Haggai 2:18), was exactly 25,200 days.
It is very commonly assumed that Daniel's prayer of chapter 9 of his prophecy had reference to the 70 years of the Captivity, and that the 70 weeks were to end with the coming of Messiah. These blunders discredit many a learned writer. For there was no 70 years' captivity, and the period "unto Messiah the Prince" was not 70 weeks but 7 and 62 weeks. Daniel 9:2 states explicitly that it was the years of the Desolations that were the basis of the prayer and of the prophecy; and, as we have seen, these were prophetic years of 360 days. The era of the weeks was to date from the issue of a decree to rebuild Jerusalem. History records one such decree, and only one, viz. that of the month Nisan in the 20th year of Artaxerxes. And 69 sevens of prophetic years (173,800 days), measured from 1st Nisan, 445 B.C., end upon that fateful day in Passion week when, for the first and only time in His ministry, the Lord was publicly acclaimed as the Messiah the Prince. (Nehemiah 2; Luke 19:37 ff. Mark the words of verse 42: "If thou hadst known, even thou in this day, the things that belong to thy peace!")
But what then of the 70th week? Here it is that all this has an important bearing on the main subject of the preceding pages. As early as the clays of Hippolytus, bishop and martyr, the belief prevailed that the fulfillment of Daniel's last week belongs to the future. And such was the view of Julius Africanus, "the father of Christian Chronologists." This, moreover, is entirely in keeping with the Lord's words in the synagogue of Nazareth; and it is definitely established by His words recorded in Matthew 24:15, with reference to Daniel 9:27. It is certain, moreover, that the 70th week has not been fulfilled in the past. For the 70th week begins with the covenant between the Jews and their last great patron, who becomes their last great persecutor. In the middle of the week he violates his treaty with them; and the latter half of the week (the 42 months, or 1260 days, of Daniel and Revelation) is the period of the Great Tribulation, which is to be followed immediately by the awful portents of the "Coming of the Son of Man," foretold in Isaiah 13:10 and Joel 2:31. (Matthew 24:29, and see verse 27.)
As already noticed, there will be a prolonged interval between those awful portents and the actual "Coming of the Son of Man." This is evident from the Lord's words in verses 36-44. And yet that Coming might have taken place within the lifetime of those to whom the words were addressed. But, as I have sought to show in preceding pages, all this has reference to Israel; and its fulfillment is in abeyance because of Israel's rejection during this Christian dispensation. The "Second Sermon on the Mount" will be fulfilled in every jot and tittle of it. But to throw it into hotch-potch with the distinctively Christian revelation entrusted to His Apostles after "the change of dispensation," modifying the language of both in the vain effort to make them harmonize -- this displays neither spiritual intelligence nor reverence for Holy Scripture.1